The first semi-final of the 2014 World Cup produced a result that nobody was predicting and Argentina and Netherlands will meet at Arena De Sao Paulo this morning to decide who will go on to the face an in-form Germany in the 2014 World Cup final.
Argentina were one of the fancies to make a deep run at the 2014 World Cup and they have made it to the semi-finals without losing a game, but they have been far from convincing in their five matches to date.
The Lionel Messi-led side required almost 120 minutes to break down Switzerland in their Round of 16 meeting and they scored an early goal against Belgium, but we unable to create any other significant chances in one of the most boring games of the tournament to date.
Argentina will face a far tougher challenger against The Netherlands in their semi-final clash, in what shapes as being an intriguing tactical contest and the tactics of Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella could go a long way to deciding the outcome of the contest.
Sabella will be without attacking midfielder Angel Di Maria and that places even more of the pressure on the shoulders of Messi, who has developed a strong combination with the Real Madrid star.
The absence of Di Maria will likely mean that Argentina are set up in a far more defensive formation and may look to play on the counter attack, which will give Messi plenty of space to work his magic as he has done on a number of occasions during this tournament to date.
The Argentine defense will need to be at their best to shut down the likes of Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, but once again Messi looms as the most important player for his side.
The Netherlands have produced some outstanding football during this World Cup to date, when they were given the opportunity to attack against Spain and in the final half an hour of their clash with Mexico, but were unable to score a goal against a resolute Costa Rican side in their quarter-final clash.
Louis Van Gaal’s side did not push forward in any great numbers until the final ten minutes of the match, but when they did they created a number of goal scoring opportunities and were unlucky not to get on the scoreboard.
The Dutch will not have as much possession as they did against Costa Rica when they take on Argentina tomorrow morning and like their opponents may look to sit back and attack their rivals on the counter attack – a tactic that served them extremely well in their opening win of the World Cup over Spain.
The Netherlands defense has proven difficult to break down during this tournament to date and it has taken moments of individual brilliance to score against them; making it unlikely that Argentina will be able to create too many chances.
Argentina are clear favourites in the betting market for this clash with Ladbrokes.com.au and are available at a quote of $2.40 to win in regular time, while Netherlands are available at odds of $3.20.
This should be a low-scoring, hard-fought contest and there is very little between these sides, but it is the Netherlands that are the far better value at their current quote and are well worth a bet to progress to their second straight World Cup final.
There is value in the correct score betting market with a Netherlands 1-0 victory available at odds of 1-0, while the $12 on offer for the Dutch to win in extra-time is an excellent insurance bet if they are not able to get the job done in regular time.
Leading online bookmaker Ladbrokes.com.au is offering their World Cup headline offers on the semi-final clash. Lionel Messi to score in normal time and Argentina to win in normal time is available at a quote of $3.75, while there is $5.50 on offer for Robin Van Persie to score in normal time and Netherlands to win in normal time!